SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – All eyes are on Pennsylvania with the Little League World Series underway, but this is Ella Bruning everyone is talking about.
Starting catcher Wylie Little League from Abilene, TX is the 20th woman to play in the Little League World Series and the only girl to compete in this year’s tournament. She can hit, throw, steal goals and catch a foul ball in the knee.
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In Texas‘ 6-0 win over Washington on Friday, she stole second place, scored the first run and led the team with two hits and one run batted in, becoming the third girl to play in a multi-player game. shots in the Little League World Series.
“She’s a role model for my daughter and a bunch of younger sisters on this team,” Texas manager Reggie Regala said. “She’s always been like that, and now that she’s on this big stage, she’s a huge role model for girls all over the world.”
She is the 20th girl to play in the #LLWS.
– Little League (@LittleLeague) August 21, 2021
Baseball is a family affair in the Bruning House. Ella’s father Bryan has coached his children for over 10 years and is an assistant on the Abilene team. His younger brother, Dillon, is an outfielder and the team’s second baseman. Their older brother, Collin, sits in the stands and applauds, admittedly jealous that his teams missed the opportunity a few years ago.
Ella’s baseball story began with practice batting balls in the outfield for Collin’s team at age 7.
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“I think she caught a line one day and some of the boys teased her about being on the team,” recalls Ella’s mother Lindi. “From that point on, it was always a joke that she played and, eventually, she did.”
His tenacity behind the plaque was documented during the week. After receiving a foul ball to the knee on Monday afternoon, in a 6-5 loss to Michigan, she stayed in the game and blocked the next three shots from her chest into the dirt with perfect form.
“She’s always been pretty natural and loves the competition the league offers,” Lindi said.
Ella’s success isn’t limited to the baseball field, she’s also a softball star.
But she gave up softball for the summer to join the Abilene team in their pursuit of the LLWS. Adjusting the sneaky pitch to the overhang pitch was a challenge for her, but she knew how high the stakes were. And she pulled out a pair of hitters on the mound in a regional clash against Louisiana.
“We knew this (year) was our biggest shot to get this far,” Ella said. “It’s once in a lifetime. I have softball for the rest of my life so I can do it for a year and go back right away.
Former Williamsport star Mo’ne Davis, now in college, continues to return to the Little League World Series as a broadcast analyst. She and Ella both inspired the next generation of girls in the process.
“I gave a little girl on the outside a pass who just wanted to see Ella play,” Lindi said. “I saw her back today in an Abilene shirt. I don’t think Ella realizes how much her impact is being felt across different states everywhere.
Ella’s run could be over Wednesday afternoon, as Texas face New Jersey in an elimination game. But even as her team’s moment comes to an end, Regala says her new star “handles attention well.”
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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)